I had to do it. There was no way around it. I like her. She is a great character, but she had to die to make the story work. Sometimes, you have to kill your babies.
Writing my father’s obituary was a snap. My grandfather’s eulogy was a pleasure. Writing about my grandmother dying from the perspective of the ten-year-old boy I was at the time? A cake walk. Writing a police report for a double murder-suicide? All in a day’s work. After Action Report for turning a bad-guy into a pink cloud of mist? That’s worth putting the video as a screensaver.
Yet, there I sat. A guy who has traveled the world doing things other people write novels about and knee deep in my novel having trouble snuffing this chick. Killing a figment of my imagination was proving more difficult than when I plotted it out as a summary. It was a first for me. Perhaps the difficulty from due to her being entirely my own creation.
The hours spent conjuring her into existence, developing her role in the novel, and guiding her interaction with the other characters almost felt like a waste. Why invest so much time and effort into something you will ultimately destroy?
Because, if you do it right, your reader’s heart will break as badly as yours has in doing it.
Since I was killing her off, I figured I might as well break some other hearts doing so to make it worthwhile. Five hours later, she wasn’t dead, but well on her way. It was absolute exhausting poetry.
I’ve since become inured. Killing off characters doesn’t bother me, anymore. However, the sense of loss can still be heavy. That character is no longer available, short of writing her into an earlier part of the timeline or in an entirely new prequel novel. So, think twice before shuffling a character off the mortal coil. Has every bit of use been wrung from her, and are there any better options to move the plot forward?
I give extra attention to developing characters ultimately destined to die within the covers. That’s really the only piece of advice I have to offer; make the loss impact the reader. Do whatever it is you have to do to get him right in the gut with that feeling that the floor just dropped out from under him.